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"The Dawn of Freedom": A Calligraphy Performance by Shah Abdullah Alamee

Artist event image of brush in bucket to paint black on gold leaf
Wednesday, March 06, 2024
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Jamal J. Elias (University of Pennsylvania), Ahmad Qais Munhazim (Thomas Jefferson University, East Falls), moderated by Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University)

In this screened multi-media performance the artist Shah Abdullah Alamee merges calligraphy, poetry, painting, raag (in classical Indian music, raag describes a melody that creates a particular mood) and videography. The Lahore-based artist will write with ink using the siya mashq technique, a writing style in Persian calligraphy, onto gold-leafed canvas. Alamee will engage with two poems: a ghazal from Molana Balkhi's aka Rumi's Divan-e Shams in Farsi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz's poem "The Dawn of Freedom" in Urdu. There will be electronic tanpura composed in raag bhairav - a foundational raag that works with a slow, meditative tempo - as the artist puts the poets into a conversation through his writing, voice and movement.

The event reflects on aesthetics as a means of world-making and querying of borders. It explores the potential of the arts to translate migrant lived experiences and multi-temporality. The use of videography in this instance serves as an aesthetic response to the physical absence of Shah Abdullah Alamee: he is an artist in his own right, with his art performance as the subject of the screening, while his embodied experience, memory and labor generate an archive of affective lives, camaraderie and care as well as of of racializing practices of nation-states. Alamee's performance invites us to disentangle how we affectively experience belonging to envision the possibilities of language that refuses to limit belonging to narratives of nationalism.

The calligraphy performance will be screened in the von der Heyden Studio Theater of the Rubenstein Arts Center at Duke University and followed by a panel discussion with Jamal J. Elias (University of Pennsylvania) and Ahmad Qais Munhazim (Thomas Jefferson University, East Falls) and moderated by Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University).

Convenor: Paniz Musawi Natanzi (Postdoctoral Associate, DUMESC)

There will be a reception catered by Zweli's in the Ruby Lounge at 6:00 PM.

For event parking: The Campus Drive lot, located at the corner of Campus Drive and Anderson Street, is directly across the street from the Rubenstein Arts Center. It will be open and free of charge for the event.